Three-week lockdown extension planned in the Netherlands: Report
The hard lockdown which was supposed to expire in a little over a week will be extended by 21 days, broadcaster NOS reported based on interviews with anonymous government sources. More meetings wil be held over the next two days with a final decision to be announced on Tuesday evening during a press conference with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.
Any multi-week lockdown extension was likely to include more financial support for the most heavily affected sectors, according to multiple news outlets.
The policy decision was debated on Sunday at the Catshuis, the Prime Minister's official residence. The meeting at the Catshuis included Rutte, members of his Cabinet, and advisers from the Outbreak Management Team. This included Jaap van Dissel, the Director of public health agency RIVM. This week prominent intensive care expert Ernst Kuipers and Amsterdam UMC virologist Menno de Jong called for a lockdown extension.
The current version of the lockdown in the Netherlands was initially deliberated on December 12, when the country was averaging 7,656 new coronavirus infections per day. The lockdown, including the mandatory closure of non-essential shops, schools, and child care services, was announced two days later and went into effect on December 15.
On Sunday, the Netherlands had a seven-day average of 7,453 new coronavirus infections. Thus it was unlikely measures to slow the coronavirus spread would be tightened, but it was also unlikely there would be any loosening of the rules, NOS reported.
“If the slight decline does not continue and at the same time, the English mutation starts to take over, then we are even more likely to think about stricter measures,” De Jong said in an interview with AT5.
A three-week extension of the existing lockdown would mean that schools will not open until February 8, and other restrictions on group sizes, shops, museums and some small theatrical events would relax on February 10. The fate of bars and restaurants, closed since mid-October, and larger events and gatherings remains unclear.